Airports around Atlantic Canada offer access via scheduled flights. Halifax, Nova Scotia (YHZ), the region's major air hub, has frequent flights in and out of the region, as well as onward connections to local airports. Other major airports include Saint John, New Brunswick (YSJ); Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (YYG); and Gander (YQX) and St. John's (YYT), Newfoundland. All offer direct flights to and from airports outside of the region.
The main air carriers serving Atlantic Canada are Air Canada (tel. 888/247-2262; www.aircanada.com) and its local-commuter partner Jazz (www.flyjazz.ca), which is based in Halifax.
Several American carriers including Continental (tel. 800/231-0856; www.continental.com) are also jumping into the eastern Canada fray. Canada's own WestJet (tel. 888/937-8538; www.westjet.com) now connects to Halifax from Toronto, for instance.
Overland access to Atlantic Canada from the United States is through Maine. The most direct route to New Brunswick is to drive to Bangor (about 4 1/2 hr. from Boston), then head east on Route 9 to Calais, Maine (about 2 1/2 hr.). Here you can cross into St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and pick up Route 1 to Saint John and beyond. If you don't plan to stop until you hit Moncton or points east of Moncton, a slightly faster alternative is to continue northeast on the Maine Turnpike -- which is the northernmost end of the Eastern Seaboard's famous Interstate 95 -- to Houlton, then cross the border and pick up the Trans-Canada Highway. Remember that the Turnpike is a toll road for a stretch (the toll is US$5 maximum one-way for a passenger car), although it becomes completely toll-free past exit 113 at Augusta.
Between June and mid-October, travelers headed to Nova Scotia can save driving time by taking a ferry. Summertime ferries to Nova Scotia depart daily from either Bar Harbor or Portland, Maine. A year-round ferry also connects Saint John, New Brunswick (about a 4-hr. drive from either Bangor or Bar Harbor, Maine) with Nova Scotia.
Bay Ferries (tel. 888/359-3760; www.catferry.com) operates the two international ferries using The Cat (short for catamaran), which claims to be the fastest ferry in North America; it zips along at speeds of up to 50 mph. Since going into service in 1998, the Cat has cut the crossing times from Portland and Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia in half: From Bar Harbor, travel time has gone from 6 hours to 3 hours, and from Portland it's now a 5 1/2-hour ride instead of an overnight cruise. (Note that the ride can get very bumpy depending on wave and ocean conditions, so if you're sensitive to seasickness, bring and take motion-sickness medicine.)
The ferry operates from June through mid-October only on a staggered schedule, sailing from Portland two to four times per week (more in summer) and from Bar Harbor three times a week.
One-way summer fares from Portland at press time were C$99 for adults and children age 13 to 18, C$65 for children 6 to 13, C$94 for seniors, and C$164 per passenger car (more for trucks and buses), plus a C$25 fuel surcharge and a C$10 security fee -- more than C$1,000 round-trip for a family of four with two young kids. There are discounts for day-trips or weekend round-trips, though I don't recommend such a quick dip into the province.
From Bar Harbor, it costs C$69 per adult and child age 13 to 18, C$47 per child age 6 to 12, C$64 per senior, and C$115 and up per vehicle -- plus taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.
Reservations for both routes are vital during the peak summer season.
Interprovincial rail service is now but a pale shadow of its former self. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland lack rail service completely, as does southern New Brunswick (you can no longer travel by train to either Fredericton or Saint John).
There's just one train line: VIA Rail (tel. 888/842-7245; www.viarail.ca), the national rail carrier, which stops in a handful of towns along its single overnight route between Montréal and Halifax. The train runs six times daily (no Tuesday departures from either terminal). In New Brunswick, VIA trains stop at Campbellton, Charlo, Jacquet River, Petit Rocher, Bathurst, Miramichi, Rogersville, Moncton, and Sackville. In Nova Scotia, you can get on or off the train at Amherst, Springhill Junction, Truro, or Halifax. And that's it.
Fares for the trip depend on which class of seat you buy, from an economy seat (sleep sitting up) to various configurations of cabins. A nondiscounted economy seat will run you about C$250 each way from Montréal to Halifax or back. Sleeping berths and private cabins are available at extra cost -- the cheapest bed in a double-bunked cabin is about twice the cost of the no-bed fare -- and VIA has even added a higher level of summer service on its overnight run (known as Sleeper Touring class) which includes better beds, presentations from an onboard guide, and a private dome car. Discounts for those buying tickets at least 1 week in advance are sometimes possible.
The entire trip takes between 18 and 21 hours, depending on direction.
Bus service into and out of this region tends to be slow and cumbersome. To get from New York to Halifax, for instance, you'd have to take one bus to Montréal (8-10 hr.), then connect to another bus line to Halifax (something like 18 hr.) -- not my idea of a fun start to a vacation week. A late-spring through early-fall alternative from the East Coast of the United States is to bus it from New York to either Portland or Bar Harbor, Maine (either 6 hr. or 10 hr.), stay overnight in Maine, and then take the early morning ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (3-6 hr.). Just remember that you must be certain which port the boat is departing from each day; it alternates between the two ports almost daily. From Yarmouth, you must then catch another connecting bus onward to Halifax (about 4 more hr.).
Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) offers service from diverse points around the United States to Montréal's bus station (tel. 514/843-4231), where you can connect directly to Atlantic Canada-bound buses. Figure on spending 12 to 18 hours to get from Montréal to key cities in the eastern provinces; there is a 6am departure, for example, arriving in Halifax around midnight of the same day.
Acadian Lines (tel. 800/567-5151; www.acadianbus.com) offers service from Bangor, Maine, to New Brunswick several times weekly and reliable daily services within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
A few local transit companies pick up the ball from there, such as Kings Transit (tel. 888/546-4442 or 902/678-7310; www.kingstransit.ns.ca), which can shuttle you cheaply among Wolfville, Kentville, and Digby.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.